- 118 motorists in four hours in Gloucester and Forest of Dean caught using a mobile phone behind the wheel
- Men users outnumbered women around 3:1
- “Using a mobile when driving must become socially unacceptable”, says Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl
- Penalties for mobile usage set to increase to £200 and 6 points from 1st March
More than a hundred motorists have been caught using their mobile phone whilst driving in the latest police operation.
In Gloucester, 101 drivers were noted within a four hour period. A further 17 were spotted in Coleford in the Forest of Dean.
Where the data collected has been analysed so far, around three quarters of those spotted were men, a quarter women, of which 61% were in private vehicles, 34% were commercial operators and 5% were in in hired vehicles.
Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl, who has made safe and social driving a priority of his four year strategy for reducing crime said, “The use of hand-held mobile phones while driving is one of the things people complain to me about the most – and yet many still do it.
“It’s one of the most dangerous and irresponsible things you can do as you are not only putting yourself and your passenger at risk but other road users as well. It’s already illegal, now we have to make it as socially unacceptable as smoking and not wearing a seat-belt”.
The operation was part of the second phase of a campaign that was launched just before Christmas. It was carried-out by police cadets and other volunteers from the Institute of Advanced Motorists. The registered owners of all the cars noted will now receive a letter setting-out the dangers and consequences of using a mobile phone when driving.
Some companies have written back to Gloucestershire Police thanking them for ‘outing’ their guilty employees.
One said, “This is expressly forbidden within our company Drivers’ Rules and Regulations and I can confirm that the individual has been subject to an internal investigation and disciplinary procedure…”
Mobile phone offences currently carry £100 fine and three points, though police can offer an education alternative ‘What’s driving us’ which is not specifically for mobile offences, but is one of the offences that are eligible. Penalties for mobile usage are to increase to £200 and 6 points from 1st March when it’s likely an education option will not be available.
Gloucestershire Constabulary’s Criminal Justice Department Unit Head David Hawker (pictured above) said: “We have written to all the registered owners of the vehicles where drivers have been spotted using their mobile phones though we do acknowledge that they may not have been the driver at the time of the offence.
“Mobile usage seen so far has included making phone calls, texting or using a device on the drivers’ lap, presumably as a navigational aid. We seek at this point to raise awareness particularly as the severity of the penalty is shortly to be substantially increased. We are attempting to change peoples’ attitudes through a blend of publicity, education and enforcement”.